Stephen Lawrence case clothes 'in same bag'

 

A jacket belonging to Stephen Lawrence was stored in the same outer bag as clothing seized from one of the men suspected of his murder, a court heard today.

Christopher Bower, a stores worker at a forensics laboratory in Lambeth, south London, told the Old Bailey that it was not standard practice to separate victims' and suspects' exhibits after they had been examined by scientists.

Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, deny taking part in the gang attack in which Mr Lawrence was killed in Eltham, south-east London, in 1993.

The prosecution argues that tiny amounts of fibres, blood and hair found on clothes seized from their homes prove they were involved in the murder of the 18-year-old student.

The defence says the samples got on to the clothes through contamination during handling and storage.

Mr Bower told the Old Bailey that, when exhibits in the case were returned to police from the lab in November 1995, a cardigan and jacket seized from Dobson's house were put in the same plastic sack as Mr Lawrence's black Raiders jacket.

However, all the items were sealed individually in paper evidence sacks, he told the court.

During cross-examination, Timothy Roberts QC, for Dobson, asked him: "When you made a choice as to which packages should go into the same overbag together, what criteria informed that choice?

Mr Bower replied: "There was no criteria - random packages from the same case would go into an overbag."

Later Mr Roberts asked him: "There was no anxiety in your storeroom about these packages being co-mingled together?"

Mr Bower said: "Not at all, no."

The jury was also told that at one point a knife found near the murder scene was put in the same outer bag as jeans seized from Norris's house.

Again, the items were individually sealed in paper sacks within the larger plastic bag.

Detective Chief Inspector John Carnt told the court that he could not remember whether clothing exhibits were removed from their packaging during the private prosecution brought by Mr Lawrence's family in 1996.

However, there were hand-written notes on the packaging of the jacket and cardigan seized from Dobson's house that they had been opened for barristers to view.

Mr Carnt could not recall if he or the lawyers wore gloves during the examination.

Kent Police took possession of key exhibits in 1997 while looking into complaints about the conduct of Met officers during the first murder investigation.

Deborah Doe, then a detective inspector for Kent Police, said some of the exhibits had to be re-sealed before they were returned to the Met in January 1998.

She said: "There may have been deterioration of the packaging which might have needed to be sealed over so that it wasn't exposing any of the contents."

The exhibits where the seals needed repair included the cardigan and jacket taken from Dobson's house, the jury was told.

The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future